Background: In 2002, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) College Drinking Task Force issued recommendations to reduce heavy drinking by college students, but little is known about implementation of these recommendations. Current discussion about best strategies to reduce student drinking has focused more on lowering the minimum legal drinking age as advocated by a group of college and university presidents called the Amethyst Initiative than the NIAAA recommendations.
Methods: A nationally representative survey of administrators was conducted at 351 4-year colleges in the United States to ascertain familiarity with and progress toward implementation of NIAAA recommendations. Implementation was compared by enrollment size, public or private status, and whether the school president signed the Amethyst Initiative.
Results: Administrators at most colleges were familiar with NIAAA recommendations, although more than 1 in 5 (22%) were not. Nearly all colleges use educational programs to address student drinking (98%). Half the colleges (50%) offered intervention programs with documented efficacy for students at high risk for alcohol problems. Few colleges reported that empirically supported, community-based alcohol control strategies including conducting compliance checks to monitor illegal alcohol sales (33%), instituting mandatory responsible beverage service (RBS) training (15%), restricting alcohol outlet density (7%), or increasing the price of alcohol (2%) were operating in their community. Less than half the colleges with RBS training and compliance checks in their communities actively participated in these interventions. Large colleges were more likely to have RBS training and compliance checks, but no differences in implementation were found across public/private status or whether the college president signed the Amethyst Initiative.
Conclusions: Many colleges offer empirically supported programs for high-risk drinkers, but few have implemented other strategies recommended by NIAAA to address student drinking. Opportunities exist to reduce student drinking through implementation of existing, empirically based strategies.